Friday, 22 September 2017

Super 8s- The Qualifiers Round Six Review

The penultimate round of The Qualifiers took place last weekend as the push to retain Super League status and avoid the Million Pound Game continued.

Leigh Centurions ensured they would play in the Million Pound Game with a comfortable 40-6 win over Halifax. Leigh struck first inside four minutes as James Clare crossed for 4-0 ahead of a self-converted effort from Ben Renyolds for 10-0. 

Mitch Brown crossed twice in seven minutes before the interval with Renyolds converting the latter, this after Halifax cut the gap a minute earlier with a Mitch Calahane try which Steve Tyrer converted.

A second try for Clare within four minutes of the restart was followed by Harrison Hansen extending the lead to 30-6. Leigh wrapped up the win with a hat-trick try for Brown on the hour and score from Gregg McNally with Josh Drinkwater converting both. 

Catalans Dragons continued their battle to avoid the Million Pound Game with a narrow 20-19 win over Hull Kingston Rovers.

The Dragons struck first with a 10th minute try from Richie Myler with Luke Walsh converting for 0-6. Walsh converted a penalty on 32 minutes for a 0-8 lead into half time. Hull KR got off the mark nine minutes after the interval as Will Oakes crossed with Zach Dockar-Clay converting for 6-8 before improving Ben Cockayne's score for a 12-8 advantage.

Rovers extended their lead five minutes later with a George Lawler try which Chris Atkin converted before kicking a drop goal on 66 minutes for 19-8. However, Catalans staged a late fightback with Iain Thornley crossing and Walsh converting for 19-14 before three minutes from the end, Brayden Wiliame went over with Walsh converting to seal the win. 

Widnes Vikings furthered their push to secure Super League survival with a 38-16 win over London Broncos. The Broncos opened the scoring with ten minutes gone through Mark Ioane, Jarrod Sammut converting for 0-6. Widnes turned the tide with a score from Matt Whitley and self-converted effort from Lloyd White for 10-6. The Vikings led 22-6 into the interval after White converted tries from Danny Craven and Charly Runciman.

Craven crossed for a second try within two minutes of the restart for a 26-6 lead which was cut by a self-converted try from Sammut for 26-12. Joe Mellor crossed on the hour mark for the Vikings with Tom Gilmore kicking for 32-12. London cut the gap again just six minutes later with a Kieron Dixon try but the Vikings would have the last say on the scoreline with Mellor scoring a second late on and Gilmore converting.

Warrington Wolves maintained their 100% record with a 68-0 humbling of Featherstone Rovers. A rapid start from the Wolves saw Peta Hiku, Stefan Ratchford and Harvey Livett cross inside ten minutes with Livett converting twice for 16-0. Warrington were in firm control by half time as Jack Hughes crossed either side of Ben Pomeroy and Andre Savelio going over the line with Livett converting three times for 38-0.

Hiku and Livett claimed their second tries of the game within 12 minutes of the restart with Livett converting both fora huge 50-0 lead that was further increased by a brace from Jack Johnson either side of a hat-trick try for Hiku with Livett converting the lot to end with a 28 point personal haul.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Super 8s Round Six Review

The Road to Old Trafford continued with the penultimate round of the Super 8 with round six last weekend.

The round opened on Thursday night as Hull FC edged a 19-18 win over Wakefield Trinity. Trinity started the better of the two sides with an 11th minute try from Joe Arundel for 0-4. Jacob Miller extended the lead with Liam Finn converting for 0-10.  Hull fought back with Mahe Fonua crossing with Marc Sneyd converting for 6-10, the score was 6-12 at the interval as Finn kicked a late penalty.

A self-converted try from Sneyd levelled at 12-12 before a Gareth Ellis try with five minutes left saw Sneyd convert before kicking a drop goal for 19-12. Trinity set up a frantic finish with a Mason Caton-Brown try which Finn converted for 18-18 with two minutes left, Finn attempted a last-gasp drop goal which narrowly missed to ensure FC claimed the win.

 Friday night saw a comfortable 44-2 win for Leeds Rhinos over Salford Red Devils.

Salford struck first as Gareth O'Brien kicked a penalty two minutes in for 0-2 before Leeds went ahead with a Liam Sutcliffe try with Danny McGuire crossing three minutes later and  Kallum Watkins converting for 12-2. Leeds went into the interval leading 16-2 after a try five minutes before the break from Tom Briscoe. 

A brace from Matt Parcell sandwiched an Adam Cuthbertson effort, Watkins converting twice for 32-2. The rout was completed by two scores in the final ten minutes as Anthony Mullally and Brett Ferres crossed with Watkins converting for 44-2.

St Helens continued their top four push with a comfortable 40-16 victory over Huddersfield Giants. Saints flew out of the blocks with early scores from Jonny Lomax and Regan Grace with Mark Percival converting both for 12-0. Huddersfield cut the deficit with a try from Oliver Roberts with Danny Brough converting for 12-6. Saints went into half-time in control as Lomax crossed for his second try which Percival converted ahead of a self-converted try for 24-6.

Ben Barba extended Saints lead within six minutes of the restart, Percival kicking for 30-6 ahead of an effort from Ryan Morgan for 34-6. Hudds reached double figures as Ryan Hinchcliffe went over and Brough converted for 34-10 before an effort from Jordan Rankin made it 34-16. Saints would have the final say though as Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook crossed three minutes from the end with Percival converting for 40-16.

My attendance for the week came on Sunday as Castleford Tigers dented Wigan Warriors' top four hopes with a 38-20 win.The Tigers opened the scoring inside five minuted with a Greg Eden try for 0-4 before a rapid hat-trick for debutant Jake Trueman in the space of 17 minutes with Paul McShane converting twice for 0-20 into half-time.

Greg Minikin extended the Tigers' lead within six minutes of the restart with McShane kicking for 0-26 before three scores in nine minutes saw Wigan battle back. Tom Davies crossed first with Sam Tomkins and Tommy Leuluai also going over, George Williams converting twice for 16-26. Castleford confirmed the win with Michael Shenton crossing and McShane converting for 16-32. Wigan closed the gap with a Willie Isa try before Minkin scored his second late on which McShane converted.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

The Qualifiers Round Five Review

The Qualifiers reached round five and at this point two sides confirmed Super League spots for 2018, one from each division meaning one side will be relegated from the top flight. 

The round opened with a close battle as Warrington Wolves edged a 32-30 win over Leigh Centurions. Leigh struck first as James Clare crossed inside four minutes with Josh Drinkwater converting for 0-6 before the Wolves turned it around with tries from Matty Russell and Ben Westwood, Declan Patton converting for 10-6. 

A rapid reply from Leigh saw Liam Hood and Antoni Maria cross with Drinkwater converting both efforts for 10-18. Warrington would lead at half-time though as Kurt Gidley (Patton conv) went over ahead of a late try from Kevin Brown for 20-18. Leigh regained the lead within six minutes of the restart as Atelea Vea crossed and Drinkwater converted for 20-24.

Warrington drew level with Peta Hiku's try just before the hour mark for 24-24 but within two minutes, Lachlan Burr crossed and Drinkwater converted for 24-30. Warrington were to comeback again though as Chris Hill crossed and Harvey Livett converted for 30-30 with Livett sealing the win with a penalty on 67 minutes.

Hull Kingston Rovers regained their Super League spot at the first attempt with a 12-6 win over Widnes Vikings.

Rovers were relegated in last season's Million Pound Game but secured automatic promotion with the win that began with an 11th minute penalty from Jamie Ellis which gave KR a 2-0 advantage. Widnes took the lead on 23 minutes as Hep Cahill crossed for a try which Lloyd White converted for 2-6.

Rovers levelled with a Thomas Minns try in the final seconds and Ellis converted for an 8-6 half-time lead. The win and subsequent promotion for Rovers was confirmed ten minutes from the end as Ryan Shaw  went over for 12-6.

Catalans Dragons continued their battle to retain a Super League place with a 26-12 win over Featherstone Rovers. The Dragons struck first with a Krisnan Inu try inside six minute which Luke Walsh converted for 6-0. Fev hit back through Samuel Brooks four minutes later with Kyran Johnson converting for 6-6.

Catalans regained the lead with a Walsh penalty before two rapid scores as Brayden Wiliame and Ben Garcia crossed with Inu converting the latter for a 18-6 lead that was cut five minutes before half-time by a try from Anthony Thackeray with Johnson converting for 18-12.

The hosts extended their lead to 20-12 on 66 minutes with a penalty from Inu before Sam Moa crossed late on with Inu converting for 26-12.

London Broncos continued their push to reach the Million Pound Game with a 36-14 win over Halifax. Fax started rapidly as Steve Tyrer crossed inside two minutes for 0-4 before London turned the score around with tries from Alex Walker, William Barthau and Andy Acker swith Jarrod Sammut converting the lot for an 18-2 advantage.

Mitch Calahane replied for Fax with Tyrer converting for 18-8 into the half-time interval. Rhys Williams crossed for the Broncos on 53 minutes with Kieron Dixon converting for 24-8.Dixon crossed for a try of his own ten minutes later with Elliot Kear crossing two minutes later, Sammut converted both for 36-8. Halifax had the last say on the scoreline though as Rob Worrincy crossed for 36-14 with five minutes left of the 80.

Super 8s Round Five Review

The Grand Final is under a month away now after round five of the Super 8s took place this weekend.

The round opened on Thursday night as St Helens stunned Wakefield Trinity late on to claim a 18-16 win. Trinity struck first as Bill Tupou crossed on 11 minutes for a 4-0 lead that was increased to 6-0 nine minutes later by Liam Finn's penalty goal. 

Saints levelled with a try from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Mark Percival conversion four minutes later, 6-6. Wakefield regained the lead at 12-6 with a second try from Tupou with Finn converting. Finn added another penalty ten minutes after half-time for 14-6 with Theo Fages crossing for the visitors on 64 minutes, Percival converting for 14-12. Finn added another penalty goal with 11 minutes to go but Saints fought back right at the end as Jonny Lomax went over with Percival converting to secure the win. 

My attendance this round was a trip up to see Wigan Warriors overcome Hull FC with a 30-20 victory. FC struck first with a fourth minute penalty from Marc Sneyd, 2-0.

Wigan hit back through Oliver Gildart with George Williams converting for 2-6. FC levelled within three minutes with a Mahe Fonua try for 6-6 but a penalty from Williams gave Wigan a 6-8 lead. FC went down to 12 men two minutes later with Liam Watts dismissed after a collision with Michael McIlorum.

An Anthony Gelling try three minutes after the restart saw Williams convert for 6-14 and Wigan went further ahead just six minutes later as Tom Davies crossed, Williams kicking for 6-20. However, FC staged a comeback with a Sika Manu try and a second score from Fonua with Sneyd converting both either side of a penalty goal for a 22-20 lead. Wigan would avoid defeat through thanks to a second score from Gelling and John Bateman try in the final three minutes with Williams converting the latter.

A battle between the top two saw leaders Castleford Tigers claim a 38-24 win over Leeds Rhinos. Leeds opened the scoring inside six minuted as Kallum Watkins crossed and converted for 0-6. Castleford levelled with a Greg Eden try and Luke Gale conversion for 6-6. The Tigers took control with a flurry of scores as Ben Roberts crossed twice either side of tries from Jake Webster and Alex Foster with Gale converting the lot for 30-6 into the interval.

Leeds cut the gap with a Jamie Jones-Buchanan try which Watkins converted for 30-12 before Greg Minikin went over for Cas with Gale kicking for 36-12. Leeds closed to 36-18 after Matt Parcell's try, Watkins converting before Gale swept over a penalty for 38-18. Leeds did have the last say on the scoreline though as Mitch Garbutt crossed late on with Watkins converting for 38-24.

Saturday afternoon saw the round come to an end as Salford Red Devils eased to a 52-14 win over Huddersfield Giants. A rapid start from the hosts saw Gareth O'Brien kick a third minute penalty ahead of efforts from Kris Welham and Tyrone McCarthy, O'Brien converting both for 14-0. 

The advantage increased with tries from Manu Vatuvei and Niall Evalds with a second from Welham in-between, O'Brien converting twice for 30-0. Hudds avoided a first-half blank as Jermaine McGillvary crossed on 38 minutes, 30-4. 

Salford struck within a minute of the restart as Vatuvei claimed his second try with O'Brien converting before Jake Bibby went over four minutes later for 40-4. Oliver Roberts cut the gap for the Giants eight minutes later with Danny Brough kicking for 40-10. The rout was confirmed by a further penalty from O'Brien with him going on to improve tries from Ben Murdoch-Masila and Josh Jones for 52-10. The final say went to Hudds as Ryan Hinchcliffe crossed two minutes from the end.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Super 8s - The Qualifiers Round Four Review

The battle to survive in Super League and for others reach the top flight continued with round four of The Qualifiers.

Saturday's round opener saw an epic batttle as Warrington Wolves held on for a 40-38 win over London Broncos.  London started superbly as they opened up a 14-0 lead with tries from Kieran Dixon, Rhys Williams and Jarrod Sammut with Sammut converting only his own try. Warrington got off the mark through Tom Lineham for 14-4 before George King went over just before the interval with Declan Patton converting for 14-10.

The Wolves levelled within five minutes of the restart through Peta Hiku with Patton converting for 14-16. Further scores from Kevin Brown, Patton and Ben Westwood were converted by Patton making it 14-34. A second self-converted try from Sammut cut the gap to 20-34 before Patton converted a second try from Brown, 20-40. London staged a stunning fightback as Sammut completed his hat-trick ahead of a try from Andy Ackers and second score from Dixon with Sammut converting the lot for 38-40.

Hull Kingston Rovers continued their push for an instant return to Super League with a 30-18 win at Featherstone Rovers. Fev struck first through Kyran Johnson nine minutes in with Ian Hardman converting for 6-0. 

Hull levelled six minutes later as Ryan Shaw went over with Jamie Ellis converting for 6-6 before improving a try from Danny Addy and scoring a self-converted try for 6-18 at half-time.

A try from Frankie Mariano on 51 minutes saw Hardman convert for 12-18 before an Ellis penalty, tries from Thomas Minns and Andrew Heffernan (Ellis conv) put KR in control at 12-30. The final say went to the hosts as Johnson claimed his second try with Hardman converting for 18-30.

Catalans Dragons boosted their Super League survival hopes with a comfortable 24-0 win at Halifax.

A tight first quarter between the sides saw them locked at 0-0 before two tries in six minutes either side of the half hour mark saw Luke Walsh and Richie Myler touch down with Walsh converting twice for 0-12 into the interval.

Brayden Wiliame extended the lead within five minutes of the restart, Walsh converting for 0-18 before he converted an effort on 65 minutes from Fouad Yaha for 0-24.

Widnes Vikings continued their survival hopes with a 24-8 win at Leigh Centurions.

The Vikings opened the scoring inside four minutes through Lloyd White for a 0-4 lead that soon became 0-8 as Rhys Hanbury kicked two penalties. Alex Gerrard extended the lead on 26 minutes, Hanbury converting for 0-14.

James Clare got Leigh on the board with a 55th minute try but Widnes resumed control with Corey Thompson crossing and Chris Bridge converting for 4-20. Matty Dawson cut the gap six minutes later to make it 8-20 but Widnes wrapped up the win with two penalties from Bridge for 8-24.

Super 8s Round Four Review

The run-in towards the end of the season is in full swing with Super 8s round four last weekend.

The round opened on Thursday as Leeds Rhinos defeated Hull FC with a 36-28 win at Headingley.Leeds struck first through Rob Burrow on seven minutes with Kallum Watkins converting before FC drew level with a a Steve Michaels try which Marc Sneyd converted for 6-6. The sides exchanged scores with Brad Singleton and Scott Taylor crossing with Watkins and Sneyd  kicking for 12-12. 

The Rhinos took an 18-12 lead with a Liam Sutcliffe try and Watkins conversion ahead of a Sneyd penalty for 18-14. The half-time score was 24-14 though as Mitch Garbutt crossed and Watkins converted on 37 minutes. FC cut the gap within seven minutes of the restart through Danny Washbrook , Sneyd kicking for 24-20 but Leeds replied rapidly as Adam Cuthbertson  went over with Watkins kicking for 30-20. 

 Josh Bowden kept FC in the hunt on the hour with Sneyd making it 30-26 but a Watkins penalty was followed by a score two minutes from the end which saw Matt Parcell cross and Watkins kick to confirm the win.

Castleford continued their push to reach 50 points with a 24-16 win at Huddersfield Giants. 

Cas struck first as Jake Webster crossed and Luke Gale converted for 0-6. Hudds cut the gap through Oliver Roberts before Paul  Clough gave them the lead six minutes before the interval with Jordan Rankin converting for 10-6 before adding a late penalty for a 12-6 half-time lead.

Ben Roberts cut the gap for Cas within three minutes of the restart with Gale levelling at 12-12 with the boot. The Tigers took the lead nine minutes later with a Greg Eden try with Gale kicking for 12-18 before he converted his own try on 62 minutes for a 12-24 lead. Hudds had the last say on the scoreline as Darnell McIntosh crossed for 16-24 three minutes from the end.

Wakefield Trinity maintained their top four hopes woth a comfortable 43-18 win at Salford Red Devils. A rapid start from Salford saw Craig Kopczak score the opening try inside three minutes which Todd Carney converted for 6-0. Trinity levelled with a Jacob Miller try and Liam Finn conversion before Finn converted an effort from Joe Arundel for 6-12.   Salford levelled with Greg Johnson's try which Carney converted for 12-12 before a second try for Jacob Miller restored the lead for Wakefield with Finn converting before adding two penalties for a 12-22 half-time lead.  

Finn kicked another penalty within four minutes of the restart before improving tries from debutant Tyler Randell either side of an effort from Bill Tupou, 12-42. Tyrone McCarthy cut the gap for Salford with nine minutes left with Carney converting for 18-42 but the final say went to Wakefield as Miller swept over a drop goal for 18-43.

My attendance this round was to see Wigan Warriors secure a 26-16 derby win over St Helens.

Wigan raced out of the blocks with a brace from Oliver Gildart inside five minutes which George Williams converted for a 0-12 lead. Williams extended the lead with a penalty ten minutes later for 0-14 before a controversial debut try from Ben Barba got Saints off the mark at 4-14, a score which remained into the interval.

Anthony Gelling crossed for the Warriors ten minutes after half-time for 4-18 before a self-converted try from Williams three minutes later made it 4-24. St Helens mounted a comeback with scores from Zeb Taia and Tommy Makinson, Mark Percival converting both for 16-24. Wigan rounded off the win in the final minute as Williams kicked a penalty for 16-26.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final Review

Four years ago, I made my first visit to Wembley Stadium in horrific weather conditions for what was a successful Challenge Cup Final for Wigan Warriors, Saturday saw a return to the hallowed stadium in superb weather but would it be a similar result this time around?

Hull FC looked to secure back-to-back titles and also avenge the 16-0 humbling by the Warriors from 2013. The Warriors started the better of the two sides with a try in the opening five minutes from John Bateman with George Williams converting for 0-6.. FC hit back within eight minutes as Fetuli Talanoa crossed on the wing and Marc Sneyd converted for 6-6.

Hull completed the turnaround six minutes later through Mahe Fonua, Sneyd kicking for 12-6.Wigan closed the gap seven minutes before half time as Oliver Gildart went over but a missed conversion meant a 12-10 score at the interval.

A second score from Fonua saw Sneyd convert ten minutes after the restart for an 18-10 advantage, Wigan cut the gap with seven minutes to go as Joe Burgess crossed out wide but with the conversion missed, the score was 18-14. Wigan looked to have levelled in the final seconds but the effort from Burgess was ruled out to the dismay of the celebrating Warriors who seconds later saw FC celebrate the victory.